$11.6 Million Against MSG
"I'm innocent, I'm very innocent, and I did not do the things she has accused me in this courtroom of doing," Thomas said.
A federal jury decided Madison Square Garden and its chairman must pay $11.6 million in damages to former New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit.
The jury, which decided MSG had committed harassment against Browne Sanders, found that the Garden owes $6 million for allowing a hostile work environment to exist and $2.6 million for retaliation. MSG chairman James Dolan owes $3 million.
The Garden said it would appeal. A verdict earlier Tuesday found that Knicks coach Isaiah Thomas subjected Browne Sanders to unwanted advances and a barrage of verbal insults, but that he did not have to pay punitive damages. After an ugly, three-week trial, that verdict gave Thomas a partial victory in the $10 million lawsuit.
"I'm innocent, I'm very innocent, and I did not do the things she has accused me in this courtroom of doing," Thomas said. "I'm extremely disappointed that the jury did not see the facts in this case. I will appeal this, and I remain confident in the man that I am and what I stand for and the family that I have."
After the verdict, Browne Sanders hugged family members and friends gathered in the back of the courtroom. U.S. District Judge Gerard E. Lynch called it an "eminently reasonable" verdict, and gave the jurors instructions on how to proceed. Before the jury resumed deliberations, attorneys from both sides appealed to the jurors.
Browne Sanders' lawyer, Anne Vladeck, had urged the jury to affix damages that sent a message "to avoid this happening to somebody else." She said the defendants had ruined her client's career, and she called Dolan a liar.
Thomas' lawyer, Ronald Green, told jurors they had already sent "a very clear, very strong and very forceful message.
"Punishment for the sake of punishment is not what this is all about," he said.
The harassment verdict was widely expected after the jury sent a note to the judge Monday indicating that it believed Thomas, the Garden and Dolan sexually harassed Browne Sanders, a married mother of three.
"We believe that the jury's decision was incorrect," MSG said in a statement before punitive damages were awarded. "We look forward to presenting our arguments to an appeals court, and believe they will agree that no sexual harassment took place and MSG acted properly."
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
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